Monday, July 21, 2008

From MobileMe to Google Apps: A Progress Report

It is disappointing, the hassles facing MobileMe users, and I'm sure the team(s) within Apple are pulling their collective hair out trying to find resolution. And I'm sure Steve and the management team are not a little bit irked that this persists in the face of today's earnings report. There will be some shareholder angst to be sure.

On a smaller scale, back in my days as an IT Manager, I recall well the departmental shift into crisis mode when services went dark. But one thing was for certain, customer service became the critical priority externally, while service restoration becames the #1 internal priority. It seems that Apple is having a tough time with this.

As for my own MobileMe experiences, blogged about here and here, I decided to transition to Google for email and calendaring. Jury is out on whether or not I'll use Google's online office. The interface is yet quirky, although it is certainly functional.

If Apple were to put iWork online, that'd be pretty swell, if not an extremely daunting task (for Apple's engineers).

I pay daily visits to MobileMe with hopes things have improved only to find they haven't. I won't rehash all the reasons for me switching, suffice it to say, Gmail and Google Calendar (Gcal) are excellent apps, in particular the sharing functionality of Gcal. Picasa Web Albums is also excellent. It differs primarily from MMe's Photo Gallery in looks, which are pretty slick appearance-wise, I'll chalk that up to MMe's favor; however, looks are not everything.

From Mail/MobileMe to Gmail: Gmail wins me over for superior online options, customizations, tagging, calendaring integration. The usual suspects creep up with any address change: getting people to change to the new one. It hasn't been too bad thus far, but could be better.

Transition has been smooth, and the thought of losing our .Mac addresses is less troublesome with each passing day. I suppose you could say that the breakup is not as bad as I thought it'd be.

From iCal/MobileMe to Google Calendar: Couple things here. iCal/MobileMe is a local/online solution. Locally, iCal beats Gcal because it has ToDo's, and it is local. With Google Gears on the horizon for Gmail and Calendar, and the excellent plug-in architecture for ToDo's in Google services, it will be come local for 1-3 months in advance...

Still, for online Calendaring, MobileMe calendar is a long way from competing with Gcal. Sorry, but it just is. So Google Calendar wins here rather easily. The transition has been smooth since that is what actually started this whole thing back when MMe was announced.

Do I mind that it isn't local? Meh, maybe sometimes. I haven't yet had an outage during which I needed my calendar info. Yet.

From MobileMe Photo Gallery to Picasa Web Albums: Here again we have the interface being the main difference between these two. Google has gone to great strides integrating PWA into iPhoto; however, it is still a few extra steps and less elegant. Just like you're able to change the "Mail" icon in iPhoto, I'd like to have a PWA icon to upload to that service instead of Exporting to the service.

And the online experience goes in favor of MMe Photo Gallery simply because it looks better. But functionally they are on pretty much the same playing field. Where PWA pulls ahead is in sharing of albums - public or unlisted, and in ability to purchase from the web page. No option in MMe Photo Gallery.

Thus the photo situation has not been a difficult transition. But I will say that I liked .Mac's video viewing back in the day when I used it. That was cool. Haven't tested that in PWA, so don't know how/if it performs.

From AddressBook to Google Contacts: This one has not been as easy. Google Contacts seems like more of an afterthought than a great service/feature. It does most of what I need it to do, but for some reason the interface bothers me. It is not as clean and easy as AddressBook. And MMe's online AddressBook is quite nice, although again, there's more that you can do - online - on the Google side of the fence here.

From iDisk to Google (?)
: Um, no. There is no from iDisk to Google because Google falls down here. Yes there are hacks that allow you to use your Gmail space as storage space, but I don't like that solution at all. If Google were to offer an iDisk-like alternative, that'd be great. They don't, so it ain't.

This is the one area that is stckiest. Bottom line for me is that iDisk alone is not worth $99/yr. if I'm not using the rest of the service. For you it might be. I'd rather go to Costco and pick up the under $200 750GB Western Digital external drive. That's 2 years of iDisk with vastly more storage space. Granted, it isn't in the cloud, but it's more practical in this case. There are free online storage systems, I'm subscribed to Box.net which I like, but it has less space. Did I mention it is free?

Conclusion: The transition from MMe to Google has been going very well, the only areas that fall a bit short are with AddressBook and iDisk although there are solutions both free and shareware.

Any of you switching from MobileMe to Google?

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